Industrial Arbitration Panel amendment bill: Ngige tasks 9th Assembly on passage

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Dr. Chris Ngige

Sen. Chris Ngige, Minister of Labour and Employment has called on the incoming ninth National Assembly to ensure the passage of the Industrial Arbitration Panel amendment bill to bring it to the status of a commission.

He made the call during the inauguration of Mr Aniazoka Chukwujeke-Zokas and Mrs Helen Oloja as the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the IAP respectively on Tuesday in Abuja.

Ngige said that the call was necessary as the panel has been elevated to competent jurisdiction, which was equivalent to state or the Federal High Court.

“We have an amendment bill to get the IAP to the status of a commission and God’s willing the nineth National Assembly will push it through so that it can work.

“We want to make the Arbitrators to become commissioners and when they become a commission, definitely everything will have to change,” he said.

Ngige said that the Industrial Arbitration Panel (IAP) was one of the organs of government that enables the ministry to discharge its mandate.

The minister, therefore, said the IAP was a great concern of the tripartite partners in the Labour industry, and as such witnessing this function today is a major step in the right direction.

He added that the law provides for the Minister of Labour and Employment, in Section 9 of the Trade Dispute Act of 2004 to appoint a Chairman and a Vice-Chairman and to also appoint the arbitrators themselves.

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“The idea being that we want to resolve as many disputes as possible without people going to waste time in court.” he said.

He noted the IAP evolved from being a Tribunal to a Parastatal of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.

Ngige, however, said that government had decentralised IAP from the headquarters in Abuja and Lagos, and expanded it to cover Kano, Umuahia and Taraba, Sokoto and Port Harcourt to increase the number to areas with a lot of workers, and industries.

He added that there would also be a corresponding increase in the number of arbitrators.

He called on members of IAP to cooperate with the incoming officers to build a strong and progressive Panel.

In his response, the new Chairman of the IAP, Mr Aniazoka Chukwujeke-Zokas, lauded their appointment and requested more support to enable them discharge their duties effectively.

He pledged that at the end of their tenure, the IAP would have evolved positively.